Selling Sunderland

Sports Editor Tom Shrimplin reviews Sunderland's fall into League One as Elilis Short sells the club

Tom Shrimplin
7th May 2018
Following their fall down into League One, the top tier of the Stadium of Light will be closed off on match days. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In May 2009, the American businessman Ellis Short who had after initially buying a stake in the club in November 2008, finally became owner of Premier League side Sunderland A.F.C . Now after a quite frankly awful nine-year tenure as owner of the Black Cats, Ellis Short has (probably) sold the Wearside club that will be playing League One for the 2018-19 season.

At first, things seemed to be going well for Ellis Short with Sunderland. After breaking club record transfer fees through his investment, he had helped lead the club then managed by Steve Bruce, to solid mid-table and even a top-half finish in the 2010-11 season.

However after Bruce’s sacking in November 2011, the club was plunged into instability and several relegation dogfights. Manager after manager came in to take the side to safety before inevitably being sacked after a poor run of results. This pattern was only broken after Sam Allardyce resigned to become manager of England (which ultimately proved to be short-lived).

David Moyes then came in as Allardyce’s replacement for the 2016-17 season, but the Black Cats luck had ran out and dismal showing in the league led to Moyes resigning, and the side finishing 20th and therefore relegated to the Championship.

[pullquote]So where does this leave Sunderland, if the deal as expected goes ahead?[/pullquote]

Things went from bad to worse this season, as Simon Grayson who was only appointed in June 2017 was sacked that Halloween after a poor run of form left the side battling against relegation.

The slide could not be halted by the clearly talented but unfortunate Chris Coleman, who as Wales manager had previously led the national team to the semi-finals of the 2016 Euros. Coleman received no support or any transfer funds from Short, who had seemingly disappeared, and so was unable to save a squad devoid of any quality or commitment from relegation.

Then a couple weeks ago after it was confirmed that the Black Cats would be finishing bottom of the league two years running, Coleman had been sacked and the club now looks set to be sold to a consortium led by Stewart Donald, the chairman of non-league side Eastleigh F.C.

So where does this leave Sunderland, if the deal as expected goes ahead? Well first of all, one piece of good news is that the club will have no debt, as Short has agreed to pay it off as part of the deal.

Secondly, fans should not necessarily expect stability as Donald has a trigger finger when it comes to sacking managers. Although admittedly after becoming owner of Eastleigh in 2012, he has successfully taken the side from the Conference South to what is now the National League, with the club also going on some great FA Cup runs.

Nevertheless, Sunderland fans should not expect a miracle overnight. Their squad is in definite need of an overhaul and it may take a couple of years to recover before they even reach the Championship never mind the Premier League. However with new owners, no debt, a decent academy, a great stadium, and a group of loyal supporters, the rebuilding can start now for the Wearside club.

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